An Accidental Statistician The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-04-22
  • Publisher: Wiley

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Celebrating the life of an admired pioneer in statistics

In this captivating and inspiring memoir, world-renowned statistician George E. P. Box offers a firsthand account of his life and statistical work. Writing in an engaging, charming style, Dr. Box reveals the unlikely events that led him to a career in statistics, beginning with his job as a chemist conducting experiments for the British army during World War II. At this turning point in his life and career, Dr. Box taught himself the statistical methods necessary to analyze his own findings when there were no statisticians available to check his work.

Throughout his autobiography, Dr. Box expertly weaves a personal and professional narrative to illustrate the effects his work had on his life and vice-versa. Interwoven between his research with time series analysis, experimental design, and the quality movement, Dr. Box recounts coming to the United States, his family life, and stories of the people who mean the most to him.

This fascinating account balances the influence of both personal and professional relationships to demonstrate the extraordinary life of one of the greatest and most influential statisticians of our time. An Accidental Statistician also features:

• Two forewords written by Dr. Box’s former colleagues and closest confidants

• Personal insights from more than a dozen statisticians on how Dr. Box has influenced and continues to touch their careers and lives

• Numerous, previously unpublished photos from the author’s personal collection

An Accidental Statistician is a compelling read for statisticians in education or industry, mathematicians, engineers, and anyone interested in the life story of an influential intellectual who altered the world of modern statistics.

Author Biography

GEORGE E. P. BOX, PhD, is Ronald Aylmer Fisher Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His lifelong work has defined statistical analysis, while his name and research is a part of some of the most influential statistical constructs, including Box–Jenkins models, Box–Cox transformations, and Box–Behnken designs. Dr. Box is the coauthor of a number of Wiley books, including most recently, Statistical Control by Monitoring and Adjustment, Second Edition; Response Surfaces, Mixtures, and Ridge Analyses, Second Edition; and Improving Almost Anything: Ideas and Essays, Revised Edition.

Table of Contents

1 Early Years                                                                                

“Who in the world am I?  Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

2  Army Life

“Contrarywise, if it was so, it might be: and if it were so, it would be: but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.

-----The Experimental Station at Porton Down

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”      

3  ICI and the Statistical Methods Panel

“Here the Red Queen began again.

‘Can you answer useful questions?’ she said.”

4 George Barnard

“When I use a word,’ “Humpty Dumpty said in rather scornful tone, ‘It means just what I chose it to mean--neither more nor less.”                                                          

5  An Invitation To the United States

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings.”

6 Princeton

“Ah! Then yours wasn’t really a good school, “ said the Mock Turtle with a sigh.  “In a tone of great relief, “Now at ours they had at the end of the bill, “French, music, and washing — extra.”

7 A New Life in Madison          

“‘And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice…  ‘Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’  ‘What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.  ‘That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lesson from day to day.’”

8 Time Series

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

9 George Tiao and the Bayes Book      

“I think I should understand that better, Alice said very politely, “if I had it written down: but I can’t quite follow it as you say it.”

10  Growing Up (Helen and Harry)

“There are 364 days when you might get unbirthday presents, and only 1 for birthday presents, you know.”

11 Fisher—Father and Son

12 Bill Hunter and Some Ideas on Experimental Design

“She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).”

13 The Quality Movement

“The dodo suddenly called out  ‘The race is over!’  … But who has won?”  At last the dodo said, ‘Everybody has won and all must have prizes.’”

14 Adventures with Claire

“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”

15  The Many Sides of Mac

“Bring me the list of singers at the last concert! On which the wretched hatter trembled so that he shook both his shoes off.”

16  Life in England        

“’Yes, that’s it,’” said the Hatter with a sigh. ‘Its always tea time, and no time to wash the things between whiles.’”                                                                 

17 Journeys to Scandinavia (most often summer)

“’I wonder what latitude or longitude I’ve got to.’ Alice had not theslightest idea what latitude was or longitude either but she thought they were nice grand words to say.”

18  A Second Home (Spain)        

Our relationship with Spain has continued to deepen — in spite of not be able to be there for some years now, knowing both its beauty as well as current challenges.  George and Claire

19  The Royal Society of London

20  Conclusion

21  Memories

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